FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I'm told there will in fact be a football game played here at some point, but in the meantime ... one more set of press conferences!
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Florida coach Urban Meyer met with the media Wednesday morning prior to Thursday night's BCS National Championship Game. You may have already read that Meyer commended the coaches of USC, Utah and Texas for stating their cases for No. 1 votes ("That's absolutely what they should do," he said). Here were some other highlights:
• Meyer said that "... if we had to play this game any earlier than January 8, I don't think we'd have a chance to win because of our injury situation. We lost four players in that [Dec. 6] Alabama game, and Percy Harvin and [DT] Brandon Antwine didn't play. The good thing is, [on Thursday] we should be pretty healthy."
That's not the only reason he's happy for the later game date. "It's great for recruiting," he said. "Every night you walk home, flip [the TV] on, there's a commercial for the Gators. "
• Meyer has stressed on numerous occasions this week the importance of Florida's kick and punt teams pinning Oklahoma as deep as possible in its own territory, and that the Gators have worked harder on kick coverage the past three weeks than in any other bowl game. "This game is all about making a team drive the length of the field and not giving them the short ones," he said.
On the season, the Gators ranks ninth nationally in punt-return coverage and 88th nationally in kick-coverage defense, which could be a problem. Florida doesn't normally punt that often.
• Oklahoma has equal reason for concern. For one thing, its top kick returner, DeMarco Murray, is out for the game, and the Sooners' kick-coverage woes have been well-documented. They rank 105th nationally in that department -- and they'll be kicking to one of the most dangerous return guys in the country, Brandon James.
"We hope we'll be able to execute and block people," said Stoops. "Juaquin Iglesias, Mossis Madu, those guys have been good returners for us. But it's a factor."
• I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the transformation of bowl season into a referendum on conferences' strengths has gotten a little ridiculous. "It just seems to be more of a theme every year," said Stoops. "There's a lot of comparing teams by conferences. I don't know, it just seems to be a good discussion."
• Speaking of which, Stoops had an interesting take on the great offenses/bad defenses debate regarding the Big 12. "I've been a long-time defensive coach, and I know a lot of times people thought our defense was a heck of a lot better than it was because we weren't playing against some offenses that were very good."
There's one other, unrelated note I feel I should bring up. Over the weekend, I wrote about the dismal TV ratings for the first three BCS games and attributed it, in part, to the recent spreading-out of games that used to be played on New Year's Day. Well, so much for that theory.
Monday night's Texas-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl -- the latest a non-championship BCS game has ever been played -- earned a staggering 11.6 overnight rating, the highest rating for a non-title game (outside of the Rose Bowl) since the Florida State-Penn State Orange Bowl three years ago. It's yet another example why the bowls will always select a 10-2 Ohio State over a 12-0 Boise State when given the opportunity.